Pepaloves puts France at centre of international growth strategy
Pepaloves, a Malaga-based fashion company founded in the late '90s, retains the family feel it has had since it burst onto the scene nearly 30 years ago, buts its ambitions are taking it far beyond its home city, taking France, United Kingdom, United States and Japan by storm.
This year, the brand has accelerated its international expansion, putting France at the centre of its strategy. “Years ago we had a big presence in France, but the agent we worked with quit and we started seeing our sales drop. Additionally, the Who’s Next fair also declined and our presence in the market was greatly impacted,” Alex Solís, CEO of the company and a member of the founding family, tells FashionNetwork.com.
“But this year, after two seasons of absence, we have returned to Who’s Next. And the return has been incredible, our best fair in 15 years,” he says.
Pepaloves is reshaping its team in France “with four agents for the different areas of the country” after making promising contacts at Who’s Next, the company’s CEO reveals. This has allowed the brand to get orders from nearly 50 retailers across the French market, a figure it expects to continue growing over the coming year.
“Who’s Next was full of Spaniards,” Solís says, but this didn’t but the firm off showing at the last edition of Momad in Madrid in September.
“In Spain we have an established retail network. That is why we use Momad as a showcase, a networking opportunity: all our customers were there, they offered feedback on the collection... Last season, our stand was very busy but, in general, I think footfall at the fair was rather meagre,” the chief executive comments.
In Spain, Pepaloves has enjoyed a strong track record of growth, and the brand has a presence in more than 400 multi-brand retail stores. Without any stores of its own (it had one in the now closed Mercado de Fuencarral in Madrid), the brand opened in June its first concession at El Corte Ingles in Castellana, Madrid. But no further concessions are in the pipeline, at least not with El Corte Ingles.
In Italy, a key market for the brand, Pepaloves sells its designs through a distributor which showcases the collection in its own showroom.
UK IN THE SPOTLIGHT DESPITE BREXIT
Elsewhere in Europe, Pepaloves sees strong potential on the UK high street. “We have recently entered the UK. We attended the last edition of Pure London in July, and it went very well. So, although we are being cautious because of Brexit, we will continue to attend the fair,” says Solís. Currently, Pepaloves has more than 40 stockists across Britain.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Pepaloves has increased its footprint in the US and Canada through a partnership with a local distributor. “We follow a different strategy in North America than we do in Europe, because the multi-brand store, what they call ‘a boutique’, barely exists there,” says Solís.
Despite Trump’s trade policies and tariffs, Pepaloves has strong links with stockists in North America, where its clothing can be found in chains including Anthropoligie, Modcloth and Forever 21. Solís says the latter’s struggles have become an opportunity for the brand. “Forever 21 is betting on the multi-brand formula to give its stores a breath of fresh air, and that is benefiting us,” he explains.
And what about Asia, the elusive yet lucrative region coveted by countless of Western brands? “We have a presence in Japan, mostly via customers we have met at Who’s Next,” the CEO says.
The international expansion programme and continued domestic growth is set to give the brand a financial boost this year. “We expect sales to increase by 30%,” Solís reveals, but he won’t go into detail about the company’s revenue numbers.
Interestingly, Pepaloves, which has just one concession and no standalone stores, says its e-commerce site doesn’t play an important role in the business. “The e-commerce channel is not relevant in terms of revenues, but it is vital for our image. For us, it’s important to have the full collection available to buy online, as well as expressing our brand image,” says the executive.
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